2-21-03, 6:30 PM -

The sun sinks into the harbor, Rufus Wainwright sings Across the Universe, and the smell of this morning's microwaved bacon is lightly garnished with scented candles. Vanilla Urinal Cake, I believe.

It's the first day in a long while that the temperature has ventured up into the 50's, and man, can I tell. I've been reading through some of my Letters from the past couple of months, and it's just this side of chewing gravel. Man, I have been in a FUNK.

Well, fuck that. February's always been my nemesis, and I intend to give it a fight. In fact, I went to lunch without my scarf today. Shocking! I need to toughen that neck up for a good sunburn in a few months. Stupid tilted rotational axis.

Got some chicken in the oven for Wifely's impending arrival home from work. In the kitchen, I keep bumping into this guy who lives on the 3rd floor. And when I say "bump into him", I mean it quite literally. The guy just WILL NOT acknowledge my existence. I say "Excuse me" to gain access to the dish cabinet, and the dude just shuffles backwards without so much as a grunt, usually grazing my arm or foot in the process. I've decided to call him Og.

Og is a fellow honky, so I guess he's all pent-up and quietly desperate in this, the El Pollo Feliz District. But he's kinda stocky, so he blends in a little better than I do. Everyone around here's got a neck the size of a tree stump, for some reason. It's like a colony of Vin Diesel's Puerto Rican cousins.

Just now, I went upstairs to check the timer on the chicken. Lo & behold, there's Og, unloading his groceries into the fridge. I gotta try:

"How's it going?"

Og say nothing. Og have handful of Hungry Man dinners.

"Warming up out there."

Og put bodybuilder supplements in pantry. Og like big neck. Make Og feel strong. Neck also make skinny honky leave, Og think. Og go upstairs and listen to Linkin Park. Only band that understand Og. Og cry tears of loneliness and eat Power Bar.

What a fucknut.

Anyhow, the chicken'll be done in 30 minutes, & hopefully Og will have Grand Theft Auto II'ed himself to sleep by then. This is a new chicken recipe I've concocted, wherein I stuff the chicken parts with cheese & wrap them lovingly in bacon. Damn, I love that Dr. Atkins.

Of course, I have to be nice to my gut nowadays. You see, my stomach is a survivor. As a youth, I made great sport of seeing how many different food groups and meal genres I could cram down my iron esophagus and into the patented Instant Metabolization Whizzo Bango Digestion Chamber below. I was like the schoolyard bully who kept hitting (King) Jeremy (the Wicked), never suspecting my comeuppance to arrive.

But one day my stomach tired of playing Belgium and went all Sicilian mob on me. I eat something objectionable, it sends out little squads of Hessians or some such mercenary gang to kick my pain receptors until I promise not to cross Mr. S again. Then Mr. S makes Mr. Intestine give me a reminder notice a little later.

So I've learned to tread carefully around my abdominal crime syndicate, and I thought I was playing it safe by trying out a noodle-less lasagna with some mild Italian sausage. Not mild enough, it seems. I suspect I'll need to try it with some less adventurous meat next time.

No adventures at Bigass Bank, however. I wanted a job that wouldn't involve my brain too much, and boy, did I get it. Though I think this girl a few cubicles down is flirting with me a bit. That sort of thing would normally make me feel kinda special, but I think in this case I'm just interesting to her because I don't wear a yarmulke.

Seriously, you never saw so many yarmulkes in your life as in this place. Unless you're Jewish. In which case you've probably seen a lot more of them. But I'm from Weatherford, also known as Jesusville, and Jews don't exactly grow on trees down there. Not that Jews grow on trees anywhere else, really, but you see what I mean. To me, more yarmulkes in a room than one is a lot of yarmulkes. And, well, they're funny.

Well, they are. I mean, it's a hat that doesn't cover your head. Religions just can't seem to get the headgear thing right. I mean, what IS that thing on the Pope's head? Who decided that a man who would hold office from middle age until death should wear a hat half his height?

The Muslim men's little hats are an improvement, but then they give the women an entire bedsheet set to wear every day. Protestants are the only ones who've beaten the silly outfit game (mostly), but they've more than compensated for that gain with a massive Shitty Architecture movement that has eaten over half of my home state. It's indescribable. Like Frank Lloyd Wright on a Colt 45 bender.

Though they're better than the Scientologists in that they haven't started making crappy sci-fi movies starring washed-up actors...sorry, I just remembered Left Behind. Damn, I hate religion. I've said it before, and I'll drive it into the ground in front of the grandkids when I'm 95: Any organization that requires a funny hat or amateur dramatics for membership is no place for me. Cuts the Shriners right out, I'll tell you what.

Now what the hell was I talking about?

Oh yeah, there's this girl who I think is flirting with me. I can't come up with a good way of communicating that my left hand would have a ring on it if my fingers hadn't suddenly unloaded a few apparently important and structurally supportive millimeters of chub last year, courtesy of Dr. "Meat-n-Jello" Atkins.

I mean, I could surreptitiously mention the Wifely during a conversation, but there's the rub. I hold no conversations in this workplace, for if Theatra, my cube-mate, finds out that I can talk, she will NEVER SHUT UP. She barely stops talking anyway, even when no one's listening. Occasionally Affirmatia the Wall-Eyed drops by, and the hits just keep on comin':

THEATRA: "It is soo hot in here."

AFFIRMATIA: "I know that's right."

T: "And my feet hurt."

A: "Tell it, girl."

T: "And I know I heard Alfie and Rhonda say they were going to pay for lunch..."

A: "You know it."

T: "But it's 4:00, and I don't think they're gonna order..."

A: "Mmm-hmm."

T: "And my daughter says she wants to watch that movie with the swear words in it..."

A: "Ain't right."

T: "But I tell her to go to Wednesday church instead..."

A: "Gotta do it."

T: "And I like that song, Can I Freak You Sideways by Sir Pimpsalot..."

A: "All right then."

T: "And my girlfriend says that her boyfriend still hasn't paid his part of the rent after 6 months..."

A: "You know they do that."

T: "And she thinks maybe she's gonna kick him out, but she loves him..."

A: "I heard that."

T: "And I can't get my work done because these phones keep ringing..."

A: "Don't I know it."

T: "And my nails are so long I can't reach the keyboard..."

A: "It's a shame, girl."

Please. Shut THE FUCK up.

So like I say, I can't talk. It's hard to be a quietly desperate working stiff sometimes. Makes me wanna crank some Linkin Park, I'll tell you what. Though they're probably way out of circulation by now, so that would only solidify my terminal unhipness. I did miss that Great White show, however...



I did have a moment of tension this morning when the big plume of black smoke from the Staten Island oil refinery fire hove into view outside my window at work. It seems rather callous, but I nearly leapt for joy upon learning that it was only a massive fire disaster and not a terrorist attack.

Actually, my first dilemma was determining exactly what direction the smoke was coming from. Brooklyn, Manhattan, who knew? Once I was assured that my window faced Staten Island, I felt strangely relieved. Not that Staten Island deserves a bombing (and it would be an odd target, after all), but at least I didn't have a Wifely working there.

So tired. This'll be a short letter, methinks. Sleep to be gotten tonight before my busy day tomorrow. A haircut and lots of research on Middle East history. Sounds like a party. Plus we've got a flood watch in effect while all of this snow melts off in the balmy 50-degree heat. Wee-haw.

I hear the oven timer above, and 'tis time for the eatings. I don't hear Og's knuckles dragging, so cross your fingers. Real tight.



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